Last updated: Selling smarter in a world of smart shoppers means going mobile

Selling smarter in a world of smart shoppers means going mobile


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Every year online retailers revisit one principal question: How to build a smarter e-commerce web-store. Increasingly the discussions around this question need to address building a better experience and providing consistent, seamless communication and information delivery across all customer touchpoints as the mobile-smart shoppers rise.

The mobile Millennial: Mobile-smart shoppers will become the norm

The well-planned and executed omnichannel strategy is particularly important if you are a retailer who sells to Millennials and Gen Z. The shopping experience for this segment is dominated by mobile. Their phone is their key to the world. This is the first thing they look at in the morning and the last thing they look at before going to bed. When they’re in a physical store and need product information, they don’t look for a store assistant, but check their phone instead.

In a 2015 digital marketing survey done by Razorfish, 56 percent of Millennials agree that, “My phone is my most valuable shopping tool when I am in the store.” There is a significant gap between this segment and the GenX, who are only at 28 percent.

Another interesting distinction of Millennial generation is that they don’t expect to see a difference between online and offline channels. For them, technology should extend into the physical store with information, customer service and purchase capabilities at their fingertips. More than any other segment, they are interested in using mobile payment technology and increasingly they are re-defining expectations of privacy. They understand that by giving more information about themselves they can receive the more personalized experience they are looking for.

It’s crucial for brands to apply the mobile lens across all channels.

Gen X: Coming soon to a (mobile) screen near you

Some digital marketers talk about the “chasm” in consumer behavior between Millennials and GenX. Looking at the numbers statically, as they are today, would confirm this impression. However, there are clear signs that larger numbers of the shopping population are following these early adopters and developing habits, attitudes and expectations for omnichannel commerce.

For instance, the study mentioned above shows that 46 percent of GenXers are interested in using mobile payment technology—a smaller number than among Millennials, but a significant increase over previous years.

What is the meaning of all that for brands? Clearly the trends cannot be ignored much longer.

To sell smarter in this world of mobile-smart shoppers, retailers must apply the mobile lens across all marketing, channel and customer service activities. If you are considering changes in your e-commerce, here are a few items for your list:

  • Consider adding mobile payment options: With Apple Pay, mobile payments have gone mainstream and the expectations are raised.
  • Collect more customer data, ask for their birthday: Increasingly, shoppers trust that retailers will use this data to design better customer experience.
  • Consider providing SMS and Facebook Messenger options for customer service: For many, these are preferred to phone calls or email service.
  • Design app-like experiences where possible: The intuitive logic and familiarity of the mobile app design paradigm will increase trust among Millennials and other heavy mobile users.

Baby boomers: Not so anti-mobile after all

The e-commerce bias towards younger shoppers is a perfectly natural one. In terms of online and mobile use, the Baby Boomers are late adopters. However a closer look at the numbers reveals that not all boomers are created equal.

A 2013 Pew Research Center study established that Boomers spend more time online than watching TV. More than 80 percent of Baby Boomers own a mobile phone, 85 percent use it for texting and 72 percent of those with income of $75,000+ own a smartphone. The primary e-commerce activity that the baby boomers engage in is price-comparison. The tendency of this segment to be thrifty suggests that a good marketing strategy would put emphasis on good prices. By focusing on hard facts rather than emotional calls-to-action to buy your products, you’ll have a better chance to reach this generation.

It is estimated that in any given day consumers are exposed to over 5,000 brand messages. Nobody has the time or even the capacity to pay attention to all that. One path to differentiation is to shift the focus from being “more interesting” to being “more useful” for your customers—and that means paying attention to mobile.

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